A Little South Of Sanity

Aerosmith

Geffen Records, 1998

http://www.aerosmith.com

REVIEW BY: Alfredo Narvaez

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 10/20/1998

Ask any rock fan, afficionado, or musician, and they will tell you that it's not only your chops in a studio that make you. You must also be able to deliver the goods onstage - where there's you, your instrument and an audience and nothing to hide under. Heck, many bands are able to survive on their stage capabilities alone while their albums are not doing so hot on the charts. The opposite is also true; many bands are unable to flesh out their material on a stage like they do in a studio and this shows in their live releases. Anyway, to capture these moments, bands have been putting out live albums for as long as they've been able.

This presents a bit of a problem. Why? Because many times the live albums released are NOT the best example of what gave that band/artist their reputation. For every Live At Leeds and If You Want Blood You've Got It, there's an unfortunate The Song Remains The Same. For every live album that makes us feel like we were there, there's two that are nothing more than the studio albums performed onstage. It's the sad truth, but even after all this time, artists have still not mastered the live album format. So when one does, it should amaze us.

Why does this matter to Aerosmith? Well, take away their Classics Live albums - which are early recordings of them as they battle in small clubs and before they reach their' 70s pinnacle - and you're only left with my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Live! Bootleg. Unfortunately for us Arrow-smith fans, that album got recorded as the band was headin' way down the drug train. So, it's really not the best the band could - or can - do. After their dissapearance and reappearance, fans have been clamoring for a live album that would fully capture Boston's baddest at their best. This brings us to A Little South Of Sanity, an album of live performances from the Get A Grip and Nine Lives tours.

The first element that makes a live album worthwile is the artist's performance. Here, each member of the band shines and struts. This isn't just the Steven Tyler-Joe Perry fiesta. Each member contributes and adds to the flavor. From the solid wall of drumming from Joey Kramer to Tom Hamilton's tough bass work and Brad Whitford's rhythm to the aforementioned Toxic Twins (trademarked, of course), the performances are all solid and miss not one beat. Starting with the rocking "Eat The Rich" and running through stuff like "Monkey On My Back," "Living On The Edge," "Rag Doll," Back In The Saddle," and the staples "Mama Kin," "Walk This Way" and "Sweet Emotion," the set is lively, mean and wonderful.

However, that alone does not make a live album good. There must be a difference between it and the studio albums - after all, if there's no difference, you might as well save your money and stay at home. Here there are some pleasant surprises. For example, I have never been a big fan of "Last Child." (Please don't kill me!) In here, the song is very FUNKY - by that I mean, if your ass is not shaking within five seconds of hearing it, look behind you cause someone stole it! Other good stuff that becomes even better live include "What It Takes," "The Other Side" and "Cryin'."

The last thing that really makes a live album worthwhile is that it should take you there. This album amazingly puts you there - from start to finish, you get the feel that you are there. (And I should know, I was there). The audience should come out from your speakers and attract you. The emotions and feelings should be close to those you get when seeing them live. And here, you want to be in that audience and you feel like you are.

About the only problem I have with this set is that there's no more inclusion of material from Nine Lives. Where's "Pink"? And they give nothing more than the hits out of Get A Grip? (I want to hear "Fever" and "Get A Grip"!) Other than that, I'm cool with it.

Overall, ladies and gents, if you want a sample of what Aerosmith is live and on-stage, well, BUY A TICKET!!!! (I appreciate the fact that Aerosmith didn't overcharge for their kickass set - unlike other bands.) If you can't go, well, then you may want to check out this album. As live albums go, this one is tough to beat. Enjoy!!

Rating: A

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© 1998 Alfredo Narvaez and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Geffen Records, and is used for informational purposes only.